Today was day 1 of 3 for my VMware vSphere Design Workshop training. I’ve been looking forward to this training since spring of this year when I scheduled it. The timing couldn’t be better since I’m scheduled to sit the VMware VCAP-DCD BETA exam in November. I’m told by the instructor, an EMC employee of eight years as well as a CLARiiON and SRM specialist, that this is the VMware recommended classroom training for the VCAP-DCD exam. To be perfectly honest, I haven’t looked at the exam blueprint yet but I intend to tomorrow. My hope and expectation at this point is that the class is going to cover the blueprint objectives. Beyond the introductions, I don’t think we were 30 minutes into the class and conversation had already turned to Duncan Epping and Chad Sakac, along with their respective blogs. By then, I knew I was in for a great three days.
The scope of the course covers vSphere 4.0 Update 1. I was slightly disappointed by this in that it’s covering a release that is nearly one year old, however, if the exam objectives and the exam itself is based on 4.0 Update 1, then the training is appropriate. That said, the instructor is willing to notify the class of any changes through the current version – 4.1. Looking more closely at the scope, the following areas will be covered:
- Virtual Machines
- vCenter Server and related databases
- Resource Pools
- Design Process
- Design Decisions
- Best Practices
- Two comprehensive design case studies to apply knowledge in the lab:
Design is a different discipline than Administration. Administration focuses on tactical things like installation, configuration, tools, CLI, Service Console, clients, etc. Having said that, there is ample opportunity for working in a vSphere lab to master the various administrative tasks covered by the VCAP-DCA blueprint. In fact, as most may know by now, the DCA exam is lab based. Design is different. It’s a step higher than the tools and the CLI which are generally abstracted from the logical design discussion. The focus is shifted to the big virtual datacenter picture and the components involved to architect a solution which meets customer requirements and other variables used as design criteria input for the engagement. As mentioned above, there are a series of paper-based labs which follow 2 design case studies: SMB and Enterprise.
It is just a three day class and we covered quite a bit of ground today. Much of the time was spent on Design Methodology, Criteria, Approach, and VMware’s Five-Step Design Process:
- Initial Design Meeting
- Current-State Analysis
- Stakeholder and SME training
- Design Sessions
- Design Deliverables
Having years of consulting experience under his belt, the instructor volunteered helpful insight toward what he often referred to as the consultative based approach/discovery. We talked about phases of the engagement, design meetings to hold, who to invite, who not to invite, and the value and persuasion power of food. We got into some conversations about hypervisor choices (ESX vs. ESXi), with a sprinkling of hardware tangents (NUMA, PCIe, processors, storage, etc.) We closed the day with discussions on resource planning, peaks, and averages, as well as our first lab exercise which was to decide on a hardware standard (blade versus rack mount) and plan for capacity in terms of number of hosts and cluster sizes given data from customer interviews.
I’ll close here with an infrastructure design growth formula and practical application:
The scenario: Contoso, Inc. has a consolidation ratio of 30:1 on an existing cluster. Contoso expects 25 percent annual growth of a 200 VM cluster over the next four years.
The growth formula: % Growth Rate x # VMs Growing x Term ÷ Consolidation Ratio = Growth Hosts Needed
The growth formula applied: 25% x 200 x 4 ÷ 30/1 = Growth Hosts Needed
The growth formula applied: 50 x 4 ÷ 30 = Growth Hosts Needed
The growth formula applied: 200 ÷ 30 = Growth Hosts Needed
The growth formula applied: 7 Growth Hosts Needed (round up)
I’m looking forward to Thursday!